Palindromes for All Times
Copyright © February 2, 2002 8:02 PM by Paul Niquette
 All rights reserved.
The puzzle was written... a palindromic year: 2002
...on a palindromic date: 2-02-02 a palindromic time: 20:02

hen 2002 rolled around, many people took note that it was a palindromic year; some remarked, rather wistfully, that no person alive today will see another one.  Indeed, within each millenium, palindromic years occur only once every 110 years.

On the same day, Associated Press reported that Mark Saltveit, editor of Palindromist Magazine, threw a party, giving special recognition to those who were around in 1991, since having two palindromic years eleven years apart occurs only once every 1,000 years.  Saltveit suggested a palindromic party menu:

Ham -- ah!
Salad, alas.
No lemons, no melon.
Naive Evian.
Yo, bro! Free beer for boy!

Winner of the New York City Marathon in 1996 was the Romanian runner Anuta Catuna, whose name is a palindrome, in 2 hour 28 minutes and 18 seconds -- exactly four seconds under a palindromic time interval when punctuated 2:28:22 (oh right, but that was five years after the palindromic year of 1991, sheesh).

Numerical palindromes also include sequences that can be read upside down as well as backwards: 1961 is one date worth remembering.  How many others can you find?

Other numerical examples are prime palindromes.

ord palindromes are rare. Examples of word palindromes include "civic," "madam," "radar," and "deified."  Literary palindromes are not easy to create.  Consider this one by Peter Hilton, one of the geniuses who helped break the Nazi codes during WWII...

Doc, note.  I dissent.  A fast never prevents a fatness.  I diet on cod.

There are hundreds of palindromes accessible on the Internet.  As literature, though, even the ones that are not too bad are not too good.  One of the most famous is...

Able was I ere I saw Elba.

Examples of verse include (in Latin) "Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor" and "Signa te, signa temere me tangis et angis."  Imagine the difficulty of composing verses each word of which is the same read backward as forward -- for instance, that of William Camden:

Odo tenet mulum madidam mappam tenet Anna,
Anna tenet mappam madidam, mulum tenet Odo.

e come now to Emor D. Nilap, who is merely one of the collaborators in my book entitled The Imitation Game.  Other automatons include Ana Pest (an aspiring poet, of course), S. A. Render (essayist), and Otto Prosaic (punk novelist).

To honor her birthday one year, a friend commissioned a palindrome for his wife, Janet.  Old Emor came up with the following bewilderment (in 2:32 on my 100 MHz Pentium):

        Was not e'en a smile?
        We Janet foosled.
        O Model! So often a jewel.
        I'm sane; Eton saw.

Intolerable diction, I suppose, but -- hey, j-words are tough.  Unlike the HyperName algorithm (see The Velar Stops Here), this technology seems unlikely to have commercial applications. {Hypernote}

Emor D. Nilap is not above resorting to vulgarities (reader discretion is advised).  My old friend Norm Bryga has a last name that offered an exceptional challenge to Emor.

        Pose buttons as time.
        A gyr-ball: UFO's DNA.
        And so full a Bryga emits
        a snot tube-sop.

Perhaps readers will be as shocked as I was with what the Nilap algorithm produced when seeded with "Rodham"...

        Gnaw in modem mark, Rodham!
        Ah, dork-rammed omni-wang!

...which gives new meaning to the expression 'free verse'. That's nothing, though.  For satirical palindromes targeting political figures, click here.

Here are seven words, each containing what might be called an "embedded palindrome"...

  1. Assess
  2. Banana
  3. Dresser
  4. Grammar
  5. Potato
  6. Revive
  7. Uneven
 ...better still, let's call them "do-si-do palindromes."  To glimpse the reason for this suggestion, see the solution to Reaman Numerals Plural

One might fear overlooking a self-referent palindrome.
  Or not.

Anagrams, of which the palindrome is merely a special case, have abundant coverage in cyberspace.  My favorite is an "Anagram Server" offered by Wordsmith, which anagrammed NIQUETTE into 10 selections, including QUIET NET and -- oh right, QUEEN TIT.


Prime Palindromes from correspondents since 2002, began with a question...


How many prime numbers are decimal palindromes?


By scanning the tabulation in Prime Number Numbers, it does not take long to get an answer: In the first 1,220 prime numbers, there are exactly 16 decimal palindromes...


11, 101, 131, 151, 181, 191, 313, 353, 373, 383, 727, 757, 787, 797, 919, 929


...and one might be forgiven for supposing that the three-digit entries will play a rôle in five-digit decimal palindromes, such that this series may become relevant…
x101x, x131x, x151x, … x929x
  …where x can have only the values 1 or 3 or 7 or 9, and then one will see that the general form will be 10001x + 10p, where p is one of the three-digit primes.  If so, considering that 10001 is itself a prime, then what general statement can be made about the primeness of the five-digit sum?  Duh.  Primes don't really care much about sums. 

Meanwhile, it is easy to show that there are no four-digit decimal palindromes among the prime numbers, and sophisticated solvers are invited to prove that there are no prime decimal palindromes with an even number of digits (except one).
Contributors to this section include most notably Richard Alexander, Don Lauria, Bill LaSor, and John Swanson.


palindrome n. word, number, sentence, or verse that reads the same backward or forward. The term derives from the Greek palin dromo ("running back again"). [Gk palindromos running back again, fr. palin back, again + dramein to run; akin to Gk polos axis] (ca. 1629): a word, verse, or sentence (as "Able was I ere I saw Elba") or a number (as 1881) that reads the same backward or forward -- palindromic adj -- palindromist n.

anagram n.a word or phrase made by transposing the letters of another word or phrase. Etymology: probably from Middle French anagramme, from New Latin anagrammat-, anagramma, modification of Greek anagrammatismos, from anagrammatizein to transpose letters, from ana- + grammat-, gramma letter Date: 1589.

-- Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary



More than a year and a day since the copyright date of Palindromes for All Times have passed.   Shortly after the non-palindromic date 03/03/03, at least one sophisticated solver gave evidence of the palindromic power to chase challenges.  Here is a message received from Ketan Bhaidasna with replies interspersed...

Reading through "Palindromes for all Times," I realize if one uses many words, innumerable palindromes can result. Anyone can claim to have the longest one.  But what is the longest single-word palindrome, a la MADAM? Not considering many contrived scientific adjectives, the longest one-word Palindrome I have come across is REDIVIDER. 
A sentence using that palindrome might indeed arise when an incumbent who reached office by boasting, "I'm a uniter not a divider," gets subsequently challenged by a political candidate who claims to be "a reuniter not a redivider."
And the most meaningful Word Palindrome (you use words, instead of letters) is "Women understand men; Few men  understand Women." 
Although not a palindrome, "The movement of first moment is the moment of first movement," in "zygote" is a figure of speech that needs a name.
And the longest Mirrored Palindrome  (same forward, backwards and upside down) I have seen is NOON. 
You are invited to provide demonstrations of my juvenile invention of "The Color-Selective Lens."
While on words, I have found that "nervousness" is the longest word that can be written with neither 'ascenders' nor 'descenders' (no t or p sticking up or down, gumming up the works). Actually you may extend it to over-nervousness. 
Perhaps a sequel to "Missing Letters" will soon be offered using aceimnorsuvwxz and bdfghjklpqty.
How about doubles, like balloon. It has two doubles back to back. The only word with three doubles in tandem is bookkeeper. 
Then, too, there is the minimalist puzzle, wherein you challenge juvenile victims without explanation by announcing, "I like doors but not windows, floors but not ceilings, rooms but not closets..." 

"Single syllables, right?" 

"Guess again.  I like moccasins but not shoes." 

Those who catch on chime in, "I like school but not work, riddles but not conundrums, droodles but not palindromes, puzzles but not hoaxes..." 

More? Read on... 
  • Can you find the shortest word which has all the vowels?  Sequoia 
  • Can you tell me a word which has all the vowels in it in right order?  Never mind the length.  Abstemious and Facetious fit the bill!
  • How about in reverse order?  Subcontinental.
  • While on vowels, give me the longest word without any vowels in it (that's aeiou, all other letters are allowed).  If you can, it will be music to my ears.
Did you try spry and come up dry?
-- PN
Recommended cartoon received from Pete England 10-27-13

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